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Articles by Brandon Sample

Seventh Circuit Upholds $9,063,000 Award to Illinois Ex-Prisoner Exonerated by DNA

On December 30, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a $9,063,000 jury award to a former prisoner, later exonerated by DNA evidence, whose criminal trial was rendered unfair by a police detective who investigated his case.

In September 1989, Alejandro Dominguez, then ...

DHS Ordered to Respond to Petition Seeking National Stan-dards at Immigration Detention Facilities

Immigration rights advocates won a short-lived victory in June 2009, when a U.S. District Court in New York ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to respond to a petition for rulemaking that requested the adoption of uniform national standards for conditions at immigration detention facilities.

The petition, drafted ...

Reversal of Summary Judgment to BOP Doctor Accused of Deliberate Indifference

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reversed a grant of summary judgment to a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) doctor accused of denying a death row prisoner needed eye surgery.

Arboleda Ortiz, a federal prisoner currently on death row at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre ...

Increasing Number of Prisoners Obtain Access to Email

Federal and state prisons across the country are slowly beginning to offer email access to prisoners in addition to traditional postal mail service – in some cases limited to receiving email messages, and in others allowing prisoners to send replies.

Leading the charge is the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The ...

Judges: Umpires They Are Not

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts famously said during his confirmation hearing that judges are like umpires, each calling balls and strikes as they come. But is that really a fair comparison? “Batters” like Kevin Phelps and other prisoners who are fighting their criminal cases will tell ...

Texas Jail Strip Search Policy Unconstitutional

O
n May 19, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Walter S. Smith, Jr. denied a motion to dismiss filed by McLennan County, Texas in a suit challenging the constitutionality of the county jail’s policy of strip searching all pre-trial detainees.

The lawsuit, filed by William Robert Bradshaw and ...

Indiana DOC Directive Limiting Educational Credit to Only One Associate’s Degree Violates Ex Post Facto Clause

A directive issued by the Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) that limits the award of educational sentence credit to only one Associate’s Degree cannot be applied retroactively without running afoul of the ex post facto clause of the U.S. and state Constitutions, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided ...

U.S. Senator John Ensign, Author of Ensign Amendment, Falls From Grace

There is nothing like a good sex scandal to get things stirred up in Washington, and it’s even better when the scandal involves the likes of U.S. Senator John Ensign, a conservative Republican and member of the Pentecostal Church who for years has railed against pornography, promiscuity and ...

Illinois Governor’s Failure to Act on Clemency Petitions Not Actionable

In March 2008, U.S. District Judge Joan B. Gottschal held that persons seeking executive clemency in Illinois have a protected liberty interest in having their petitions decided within a reasonable time by the governor. However, that ruling was reversed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals just over a ...

Nebraska Prison Officials Must Pay Attorney’s Fees in Kosher Diet Case; Found in Contempt After Excrement Discovered in Prisoner’s Food

Nebraska prison officials cannot delay paying $204,856.28 in attorney’s fees and costs awarded in a lawsuit where they were found to have violated the First Amendment and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) by failing to post a prayer schedule and to provide a ...